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Old 29-11-21, 23:06
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Default Who Do You Think You Are - Ed Balls 30th November

On BBC1 at 9 p.m. Last in the series.
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Old 30-11-21, 10:50
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Looking forward to this as he went to school in Nottingham although I have no idea whether he has any family roots there. I also grew up there but none of my family has any previous connections to the city so maybe Ed's doesn't either. Still looking forward to it though and very sorry it's the last one. This series has been excellent I think.
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Old 30-11-21, 23:44
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Episode summary:

Ed Balls was born in 1967, the eldest child of Mike Balls and Carolyn nee Riseborough. He grew up in Norfolk. He only met one of his grandparents. Carolyn started to develop dementia 15 years ago and is now in a care home in Norwich. Ed visited Mike and Mike's older brother John Balls, who told him that there was a family story that an ancestor on their father's side was a surgeon on Nelson's ship, the Victory, and that Frank Smith Balls, their grandfather (father of Ed's grandfather Charles Balls), was an accountant who was involved with Norwich Prison. Ed was shown a photo of Frank and his wife Jessie Maria Dunbar, whose father was thought (by Mike and John) to be a cathedral architect. Frank and Jessie's marriage certificate, dated 1888, showed that Frank was 28 and lived in Norwich while Jessie was 27 and lived in Ramsgate, her father being Henry Douglas Dunbar, a painter. Ed looked up Henry Douglas Dunbar and found that he was baptised in 1832 at Queenborough, Kent, the son of William and Sally Dunbar. William's abode was HMS Scarborough and his occupation was assistant surgeon in the Royal Navy.

Ed went to Portsmouth Dockyard and met an historian, who told him that William did serve on the Victory as assistant surgeon, but from 1826, many years after Nelson's death. William's service record showed that he served in that capacity on several ships, including the HMS Piercer in 1813, meaning that he did serve in the Napoleonic Wars. While he was on the HMS Childers, there was an outbreak of yellow fever in which many of the crew died. The years 1834-1843 were missing from his navy service record. The 1841 census showed him in Herne, Kent, with his wife and eight children.

Ed found mention of William Dunbar in an article in the Evening Mail of Feb-Mar 1841, about the deaths of two paupers in the Blean Union workhouse, [B]John Moys[/[B], age 72, and Thomas Knowles, age 18. John Moys was "deranged" and the article said that William had asked for him to be watched in case he hurt himself, but instead he was locked in a room on his own and hurt himself trying to get out. According to his son, there were marks of blows on him, but William had said that he hadn't seen them. Thomas had been blind from infancy and wouldn't eat meat, and was not given suitable food. William had said there had been nothing wrong with him, but when the coffin was opened it was apparent that he had basically starved to death. The jury in the inquest was directed not to find the master of the workhouse and the surgeon (William) guilty of manslaughter.

Ed went to Blean and met an historian at the old workhouse, now turned into housing. She told him that workhouse doctors were very overworked. They then went to the Kent Archives at Maidstone to look at the Blean Union minute book, with an entry dated 11 May 1843 saying that the Governor complained to the board that Mr. Dunbar had taken "improper liberties" with his (the Governor's) eldest daughter, aged 16. Mr Dunbar admitted that he had kissed her, promised her a ring, and pulled her about, but denied "exposing his person to her". There was also William's letter of resignation, dated 18 May 1843.

Ed then went to Norwich Guildhall where he met a genealogist who showed him Carolyn's family tree. Her parents were Wesley Riseborough and Hilda Emma Spelman. Ed had an older sister who died young, who was named Emma. The tree went back as far as Ed's 4xg-grandparents, Christopher and Mary Green. Christopher was born in Fersfield, Norfolk, around 1780. There was a report in the Norfolk Chronicle of 1822 that Christopher and others were indicted and found guilty of riotous assembly and taking and destroying a threshing machine, part of a movement of agricultural labourers at the time who did this to protest at machines replacing them at work. Ed and the genealogist went into the room of the Guildhall where the trial took place. Prison records showed that Christopher was sentenced to 12 calendar months in Swaffham Bridewell, being one of the ringleaders. Since Swaffham Bridewell has not survived, Ed went to Walsingham Bridewell, and saw a cell similar to the one where Christopher would have served his sentence. He also saw the solitary confinement punishment cell there. An Overseers Account Book showed that while Christopher was in prison, 5 shillings were given for "Green's wife lying-in" (i.e. giving birth).

Ed and the genealogist then went to Winfarthing, where Christopher returned after serving his sentence. A newspaper report from 1832 said that three men, including Christopher, were charged with setting fire to the manor house and farm at Winfarthing Lodge, which destroyed the farm buildings and killed several calves. The Bury and Norwich Post reported that the Winfarthing incendiaries were committed for trial at the assizes. Ed and the genealogist went to Norwich Castle, where the men would have been held awaiting trial, and went through the tunnel from the prison to the castle. Ed went to the Shire Hall courtroom, where Christopher was tried, and was shown a page from the assizes jail book which said that Christopher and others were tried for stealing a ewe, the arson charge having been thrown out. One of the prosecution witnesses, Robert Hubbard, had been one of the accused in the arson case, and had evidently turned state's evidence to go free. An account of the trial said that the verdict was not guilty, since most of the evidence was uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice who had never mentioned the matter until he was arrested for arson. Christopher's death certificate showed that he died in 1860, age 80, in the Union Workhouse at Kenninghall.
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Old 30-11-21, 23:47
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I have Riseborough ancestors from Norfolk, but mine are from Great Yarmouth.

I was hoping they would go to the Bridewell Museum in Norwich since I used to go there a lot when I was a child. I laughed at Ed saying he was glad he was related to Christopher Green and not to Robert Hubbard - if they both lived in the same small village, maybe they were related to each other?
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Old 30-11-21, 23:57
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Also, I was surprised that Ed didn't know that sheepstealing used to be a capital crime - has he never heard the saying, "May as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb"? And I would have liked them to mention the fact that many people who were sentenced to death weren't actually executed in the 19th century, with sentences often being commuted to transportation or prison sentences.
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Old 01-12-21, 10:53
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Yes i did wonder if he might have been transported.
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Old 01-12-21, 11:09
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I liked this one, mainly because it demonstrated that not all our ancestors were nice people and that when you go digging around in the past you may find things you don't like.

The Blean workhouse story seemed familiar and it took me a while to realise that I had actually read about this before, in a book about workhouses. William Dunbar appeared to be a most unpleasant man and took his workhouse duties lightly, to put it politely. He was forced to resign, an unusual step for those times, but there was a suggestion in the book that the workhouse master had jumped on the opportunity presented because of long standing animosity between the two men.

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Old 01-12-21, 12:10
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Really enjoyed this one. Not too much padding.

Good to see a warts and all ancestor. I like Ed Balls and more so after this programme.
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